Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue Number: A2-W1

Release Date: November 29, 2002

Topic: A brief bio of Wei Jingsheng
Original Language Version: English
(English at beginning, Chinese version at the end)

November 29

Bio of WEI Jingsheng

WEI Jingsheng is the best-known Chinese human rights and democracy fighter and is the leader for the opposition against the Chinese Communist dictatorship.  He was sentenced to jail twice for a total of more than 18 years due to his democracy activities, including a ground breaking and well publicized essay he wrote in 1978: "the Fifth Modernization".  He is the author of "Courage to Stand Alone -- letters from Prison and Other Writings", which compiles his articles written initially on toilet papers in jail.

Wei Jingsheng is a winner of numerous human rights awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award in 1996, the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the National Endowment for Democracy Award in 1997, and the Olof Palme Memorial Prize in 1994.  Wei Jingsheng has been nominated seven times for Nobel Peace Prize since 1993.  He was praised in numerous places with varies titles, such as "Father of Chinese Democracy" and "Nelson Mandela of China".  Thousands of entries about him can be found on the Internet in many languages, not just in English and Chinese.

Wei Jingsheng was born in
Beijing, China in 1950. His given name is very common and is an indication of the pride of his parents; a pride shared by many in the days immediately following the creation of the People's Republic - "Jing" means "capital" and "Sheng" means "birth."  He is the eldest of four children. His parents were longtime Chinese Communist Party cadres. He was brought up in the prestigious Party schools, and was exposed to the internal dramas of the Beijing party elite.

At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the sixteen-year-old Wei left
Beijing to explore the country for himself. He traveled throughout north and northwest China. Seeing firsthand the true effects that communism had on the Chinese people. It was during this time that he first began to formulate his opinions on the Chinese Communist Party and the future of the Chinese people. By the time the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, Wei had been "sent down" to the countryside in his ancestral hometown in Anhui Province and also served in the People's liberation Army. The ten formative years he spent gaining a better understanding of the Chinese people's situation left an indelible mark on his thinking.

After moving back to
Beijing, Wei took a job as an electrician at the Beijing Zoo. In 1978, a series of workers, intellectuals, and artists posted their thoughts and expression on a piece of wall in Beijing. The place, and the period, became known as The Democracy Wall. At this time, Wei wrote an essay entitled "The Fifth Modernization" which stated that without democracy, China could not truly modernize. His essay caused a sensation- not only because it openly assaulted the "people's democratic dictatorship" propaganda of the Communists, but also because the author dared to sign the essay with both his real name and address. Wei joined a few friends in publishing an underground magazine called "Exploration". In its last edition, Wei wrote another article, "Democracy or a New Dictatorship?" which identified Deng Xiaoping, then Communist leader of China, as the new dictator. Three days later, Wei Jingsheng was arrested.

In 1979, Wei was tried, convicted of "counter-revolution" and sentenced to 15 years. He spoke in his own defense, and a copy of his statement was smuggled out of the courtroom and distributed in China and to the foreign press. He was first on death row for eight months, and then in solitary confinement for nearly five years. He was kept in two other forced labor camps under strict supervision from both guards and prison handlers until 1993 when he was released. Within six months he was arrested a second time. He was tried again, convicted of "counter-revolution" and sentenced to another 14 years. In 1997, after a total of 18 years in prison, Wei was taken from his cell and placed on a plane bound for the United States. He maintains that he was not freed, but that his exile is further punishment.

Currently residing in
Washington DC area, Wei Jingsheng has not been silenced by his forced exile.  There are numerous reports of his work outside of China for the Chinese cause.  Many of his articles are published in major newspapers including English, more in Chinese.  Every week, he gives speeches and commentaries through various radio and TV stations, especially to the Chinese audience via Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, and BBC, etc.  His close ties to many congressional members and legislators, as well as governmental officials of many democratic countries, enable him to represent the Chinese democratic force and use his influence to push for human rights and democracy in China.

In 1998, he founded the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition (OCDC) which is an umbrella organization for many Oversea Chinese democracy groups.   The OCDC has many members over dozens of countries.  He has been serving as its chairman since then.  He is also the president for the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, which is a non-profit organization registered in New York.


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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue Number: A2-W1

Release Date: November 29, 2002

Topic: a brief bio of Wei Jingsheng

魏京生是中国当代最著名的民主人权斗士,他也是反抗中共独裁阵营中最关键的领袖人物.由于积极投身于中国的民主事业尤其是他1978年在北京西单民主墙发表了<第五个现代化>这篇已举世闻名的文章以及出版<探索>杂志, 因此曾经两次被捕并遭受到长达十八年之久的监禁.后来, 魏京生在监狱中从偷偷写在卫生纸上开始的文字被整理成一本<狱中书信集>, 那就是在中国国内被悄悄地广泛流传并在海外被翻译成多种语言出版的<COURAGE TO STAND ALONE>. (单打独斗的勇气)

国际社会非常推崇魏京生的精神和理念,1996年他被授予纪念罗勃特.肯尼迪人权奖, 同年还获得欧洲议会所授予的萨哈罗夫思想自由奖.1997年他获得美国国家民主基金会的民主奖.他也是1994"OLOF PALME"纪念奖等多种奖的得主.1993年以来他基本上年年都成为诺贝尔和平奖的提名人. 他还被誉为"中国的民主之父""中国的曼德拉"等等,并在全球各地都享有盛名.







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